Natures
A Green-Eyed Jedi Mud-Fight Challenge ’Fic
Part One – The Rampart Falls

Rating: PG
ThrawnMcEwok


Dramatis Personae

Luke — Jedi Master (male human from Tatooine)
Mara — Jedi Mistress (female human from Coruscant)
Lumiya — Sith Lady (female human from Coruscant)
Martel — Sith Lord (male human from Nespis VIII)


She stood alone on the slick silver deck of the viewing platform, thrust out among the plunging waters of the cataract — her face tipped up to greet the gleaming sunlight and the glittering spray, drinking in the delicious sensation of the ice-cold shrapnel of the waterfall, bright and invigourating against the bare skin of her face and shoulders and the smooth chrome sheathe of her armour.

Two hundred feet above her head, the Great River toppled over the crest of the cliffs, and every second, more than two hundred metric tons of water came crashing and cascading down the sheer drop of the Rampart Falls in a curtain of sparkling spume — a thousand living streams intertwined in a joyous dance, tumbling and leaping over the banks of gleaming rock that formed the face of the geological rampart, springing from the out-thrust outcrops of harder stone, and diving free through the dizzying air.

Half a mile below her feet, the water crashed into the lake, shattering the surface and boiling up in a raging cauldron of white foam, before smoothing out through white-flecked amethyst, rippling blackness and muddy brown to a perfect mirror sheen — a lake the colour of the sky, stretching away along the valley to the horizon. The shores of the Long Lake were fringed with muddy swampland, but the first canopy trees rose only a dozen or so yards from the shore, and the reeds and mossbushes quickly thickened into an impenetrable jungle — a turbulent sea of green, rolling away unbroken to the distant foothills of the Blue Mist Mountains on the far side of the horizon.

In such a lush, majestic landscape, it was easy to overlook the slim steel spikes of the turbolaser towers that thrust up from the jungle every few miles. Twenty of them were visible from the viewing platform in the face of the Falls, covering an area of more than four hundred square miles, but even now, with their twin barrels aimed skywards, sending staccato streams of green energy lancing upwards into the sky, it was almost possible to ignore them.

She raised her gaze, and glanced up into the air. Above the jungle canopy, the sky was clear and vast, only a few brave mid-level clouds fluffing here and there, barely noticeable in the immense emptiness. Up there, it was icy cold, the air currents of the upper atmosphere whipping away even the brief bursts of proximity-detonation flak.

Her green eyes flickered, and she saw the two approaching ships switching back across the sky, dodging the fire from her fortress’s defences. She watched them dance for a while, enjoying the sight.

The two pilots moved together like partners in a formal waltz, and no doubt they thought that they were making their own path through stiff defensive fire towards the Rampart Falls and the fortress perched amid the waters of the crest.

In truth, the fortress was exactly where she wanted them to come — but the gunners in the towers were under orders to make it look good.

So, she stood, watching the two Jedi dance into her trap, feeling the gleam of the bright morning light on her spray-sheened armour, feeling the smile spreading behind her mask like a mirror of the sunrise.

The two ships — an X-wing and a SoroSuub space-yacht — zoomed overhead, the growl of their engines rising to a roar, in counterpoint with the crashing of the waterfall, and then, abruptly, cutting out.

Behind her mask, Lumiya sheathed her smile, and turned away, stepping quickly through the cascading curtain of water and into her private quarters — a natural cavern behind the cataract, discovered by her engineers when they had been refitting and enlarging the old base buried beneath the crest of the Falls to serve as her headquarters.

The walls were simply naked rock, and where it had been necessary to enlarge or alter the space, the work had been carefully finished to look entirely natural. The magnetic seal across the cave-mouth had been designed to allow through not only people walking back from the viewing platform, but also a fair amount of spray, an edge of cold in the air, and a whisper of noise from the waterfall. And while most of the visible fittings were crafted in the cool steel geometries of the Imperial style, the smooth, bright metal seemed oddly harmonious against the rough, glittering darkness of the rock.

On the left, neatly tucked away on a raised ledge behind a spur of rock, stood two priority turbolifts and a heavy airlock foyer sealed by double blast-doors — the only direct link form here to the rest of the complex, permanently defended by a detachment of her Royal Guards. On the right, the floor stepped down and a rock-walled portal led through into the command area — a deeper cavern, dominated by a vast galactic hologram, walls lined by whispering ranks of superprocessors, all overlooked by her throne on its raised dais.

But in front of her — in between — were her private quarters. Kitchen and ’fresher station in subsidiary caverns, a small relaxation area — two deep leather chairs, a holoproj, a real fire, and the wampa-hide rug that Luke had given her all those years ago — and a massive bed tucked into the cleft where the slanted ceiling dropped down to join the rising floor.

“I take it that was our house-guests, then?”

“You know perfectly well who it was, Lord Martel,” she snapped, her green eyes flashing to her Apprentice. He was sitting up in the bed, bare-chested, leaning back comfortably on his folded arms, cushioning his dark curls on interlaced fingers — watching her walk back in as though he were the Master and she the Apprentice.

He had even hogged all the pillows.

“Get dressed,” she ordered him. “Slave. Or I’ll have your other hand.”

Anakin Solo — Darth Martel — answered with a cock of one eyebrow and a faint, insolent grin.

“Yes, Mistress,” he said, with a relish that belied his sharp nod. He rolled out of the bed like a krak’jya rising from rest, scooping his undershirt off the floor as he stood up, and began to dress.

Lumiya watched him with a quiet sigh. She shouldn’t tolerate the boy’s insolence, she told herself. But his insolence was simply the gleam from the razor-sharp edge to his personality. She had taken the broken scrap of a Jedi padawan, forged, sharpened and honed him to make him a weapon.

Her weapon. At least, he was supposed to be. But she was unsettled still by his attitude, not least his repeated insistence that he only stuck around because he cared. No matter how she tried to justify it, that wasn’t how Sith Lords were meant to behave.

She sighed again, as he buckled his belt around his waist, straightening the fall of his tunic and adjusting the rest of his lightsabre against his hip. He pulled on his black gloves, and made to tuck his thumbs behind his belt.

“Come on, then,” she said, allowing herself a grin as she strode past him towards the turbolifts. She snapped her metal fingers in command. “Heel, boy.”

The grin he answered with as he broke into step — as wide and bright as the Rampart Falls themselves — was enough to tell her she had failed utterly.

But it was enough to make her smile grow broad in answer, too.



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